Stars Shine Brightly at the 5th CCA Black Celebration of Cinema and Television | Festivals & Awards

I’ve always enjoyed chatting with directors, and meeting Gina Prince-Bythewood (who received the Director Award for Film for “The Woman King“) was insightful. I complimented her on bringing another critical women’s story to the big screen and asked about the ultra-action physicality in making the film and how she dealt with that. She said that her job was to inspire the cast. However, she said that they in fact inspired her by their willingness to make all scenes look great.

Prince-Bythewood said, “Yes, they inspired me by their work ethic, passion, and kindness, they wanted to be great, and they knew the importance of honoring these warrior ancestors. That’s an incredible environment to be in. You don’t always get support for each other, their healthy competition, and their love for each other on a movie set, but this just felt blessed. They would show up even when they weren’t working to show support and watch each other. They bonded as in the film and formed a sisterhood to work together; it was magnificent.”

Damien E. Smith, who played Sgt. Maj. James Ingraham in the film “Emancipation,” upon meeting me on the Red Carpet said, “What, you write for, the king of film critique? Oh, man!” I replied, “Yes, I do, and I attended film screenings with him and interviewed him; we were in the same critics’ group: the Chicago Film Critics Association.”

I asked, “What did Roger teach you?” Smith said, “Between the ages of 7-12, I would sneak out of my room at night to watch his movie critique show with Gene; I’m a cinephile and loved his articulate critiques about film reviews. I wanted to know what he thought, he would get to the point and explain the meaning as if he was talking directly to me. He’s awesome!”

I replied, “Certainly, I have to agree with you. And I’ll tell you a quick answer Roger gave me about being a film critic. I asked Roger what the key to being a great film critic is, and he replied, ‘To be honest and real.'”

Credit: Getty Images for Critics Choice Association

Lauren E. Banks, an actor in the television show “City on the Hill,” presented Angela Bassett with her Career Achievement Award. She told me, “Angela is a full ‘Master Acting’ class; her commitment and full embodiment of character transformation is incredible.” She raved about her performance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” as I readily concurred with her assessment. In my opinion, Bassett is breathtaking in the film, and her performance is one of the best I’ve seen this year.

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